Coast Covid-19 lab shuts its doors after employee gets corona
By Philip Mwakio and Willis Oketch | May 27th 2020
Testing for Covid-19 at the Coast Provincial General Hospital was suspended for a week after a laboratory technician contracted the viral disease.
Officials, however, said the technician did not contract the virus at the lab, which was installed last month.
They added that the technician’s colleagues tested negative for the coronavirus disease, but would be subjected to additional tests as per procedure.
According to Health CEC Hazel Koitaba, the technician contracted the virus while off duty for a week, and was found to be infected when he underwent routine testing on his return to work.
She confirmed operations at the laboratory were suspended, but it would reopen yesterday. Following the temporary closure, samples from Mombasa were taken to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) in Kilifi and the National Influenza Centre in Nairobi.
“A laboratory technician at our testing facility who was off duty resumed work, but when he was tested, the results returned positive. We quickly swung into action, quarantined his colleagues and put him in (isolation),’’ she said yesterday.
On Monday, Ms Koitaba said health workers were susceptible to infection as frontline employees, but added that adequate measures have been put in place to protect them from the virus.
She further revealed that the county had quarantined 530 Mombasa residents, with 137 residents in quarantine centres having tested positive. Additionally, 950 health workers have been tested.
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“To date, Mombasa County has tested 950 health workers and some of the cases turned positive. Over 50 per cent of them have since recovered,” said Koitaba at the start of the week.
“It is important to note that frontline health workers are exposed and are at high risk of contracting Covid-19 despite taking all necessary precautions.”
The equipment at the Coast Provincial General Hospital is capable of delivering 384 test results in intervals of eight hours.
Mombasa was identified as a hotspot for coronavirus cases in Kenya, with the port being one of the hubs of infection.
A Ministry of Health report seen by The Standard found that, “31 employees of the Kenya Ports Authority have tested positive out of 1,003 samples taken since mass testing at port facilities began in Mombasa last month. Two port employees died from the virus, and 27 residents of Mombasa have died from the disease.”
Koitaba said as of Monday, 10,334 Mombasa County residents had been tested for Covid-19, with 408 being found positive.
“We are currently doing targeted testing. Our focus is on areas where positive cases have been identified as we aim to curb the rate of more infections.’’
The Roche Cobas 6800 machine for testing Covid-19 was procured at a cost of Sh90 million, and can also be used to detect HIV/Aids and other viruses. Apart from serving residents of Mombasa County, the equipment also serves the adjacent counties of Kwale and Taita Taveta.
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